Kampfire Kowboys Press

CHICAGO TRIBUNE Thrusday, May 25th, 2000
By Lynn Van Matre, Tribune Staff Writer

With 20-year plus years on the Chicago area rock scene, singer-songwriter and guitarist Tom Colton knows what draws crowds on the club circuit: cover versions of songs by big-name bands. He also knows what he wants to do: Play original music.

“The suburbs, especially, are tribute-band land.” says Colton, a St. Charles musician whose resume’ includes stints with Chicago bands Centerfold, which played cover and originals, and Rooster, which specialized in tribute shows featuring songs by Genesis, Jethro Tull and other progressive rock groups of the 80’s. “But I got real tired of playing other people’s music. I wanted to start writing my own songs.”

Two years ago, Colton launched Kampfire Kowboys, a five-piece band that does mostly original country-rock/Americana material. The group, which recently released its second CD on Deagan Records, performs Saturday with headliner Heartsfield at Rory’s Music Cafe’ in Addison.

“People sometimes think we’re strictly a country band because of our name, but we’re not, even though the music has kind of a giddy-up sound to it,” said Colton, who chose the name Kampfire Kowboy for its “tongue-in-cheek quality” and named Deagan Records after his dog.

“We started out saying we played rock with a western feel” Colton said. “Thenwe called our sound authentic American rock. Now we say we play strictly Americana music, which to me means taking older country and folks sounds and updating them with a little harder drums and a rock feel. My influences range from Woody Guthrie to Creedence Clearwater to Harry Chapin and the Who, so it’s very much a mixed bag.”

A recent concert and release party for the group’s latest CD “Stand Still” at a Glendale Heights club drew more than 220 people-the biggest turnout for the band so far, according to Colton.

“It’s still a struggle to get people interested in original material, and we’re still paying dues,” he said. “But we get up on stage and rock, we do get people’s attention. It’s interesting to see the look of surprise on their faces.”

Colton initially put together the Kampfire Kowboys as a three-piece group with bassist Dave Piper and drummer Gary LaPlante; the lineup now includes lead guitarist Brian Tedeschi and singer-guitarist Tadd King. The band which maintains a web site at www.kampfirekowboys.com, sells its CD’s at shows at local records stores and on the internet through Amazon.com.

“Our goal is to make our mark playing clubs and festivals in the Chicago area, because most of the guys in the band have family and work commitments,” said Colton, who manages his wife’s law office. (Attorney Kathleen Colton also manages Kampfire Kowboys.) “My son is in college, so I would be willing to travel, but the other guys aren’t that interested in touring. I want to get the music out there, though. College radio stations might be one avenue.”

For Colton, whose songs often draw loosely on historical themes, a high point for Kampfire Kowboys occurred last year when the band was invited to perform at a ceremony to dedicate a historic bur oak “witness tree” in McHenry County. Such trees, cited by surveyors who measured off the land during pre-settlement days in the 1980’s, were so designated because they served as “witnesses” to boundary lines. Earlier Colton had written a song, “Tri-City Line,” about a similar ancient tree in his back yard.

“I was just staring out the window at the tree and I started imagining what could have happened under it,” he said.

“I don’t get too serious about lyrics. The chord patterns come first and then I jot down random thoughts and try to make something out of them,” he added. “A lot of time I write about fun stuff. But I also like to imagine I am in another place and time, and of lot of my lyrics end up having something to do with history or with western images; I don’t know why. So it was neat to be able to perform’ Tri-City Line’ at a historical society ceremony.”

Colton’s other career highlight occurred 20 years ago, when Centerfold opened a show for blues rock guitarist Jeff Beck at the Granada Theater in Chicago.
“I’ll never forget it,” Colton said. “ A band called Trillion was supposed to open the concert, but at the last minute they couldn’t do it, and we got the job. We happened to be in downtown Chicago, doing a showcase or something, when we got a call from our agent about doing the show. We were young and inexperienced, but we packed up our equipment and headed over to the Granada and acted like we were big time.”

Heartsfield and Kampfire Kowboys perform Saturday at Rory’s Music Cafe, 701 W. Lake St. in Addison. Showtime is 9 p.m. Cover charge is $8; reserved tables available with advance ticket purchases. Call (630)543-3101.

July 4, 1998 Entertainment PLUS, Section D
By Eric Schelkopf

ST CHARLES - You can't put a label on Kampfire Kowboys. Not even the band knows what to call their blend of country, folk and rock.
"We didn't know how to classify it. So we started a new category, - 'Rock Western Style,'" said Tom Colton of St. Charles, lead vocalist and guitarist in Kampfire Kowboys.

The band just released its first CD,"somewhere blue," and on Thursday will hold a CD release party at Chord On Blues, 106 S. First Ave., St. Charles.

Kampfire Kowboys will take the stage at 9PM. Doors open at 8PM.

The band will also be at Synergy II in West Chicago on July 24.

Colton formed Kampfire Kowboys in 1997 with fellow St. Charles resident Dave Piper, bass player in the band.

Rounding out Kampfire Kowboys are drummer Gary LaPlante of Hanover Park and lead guitarist Brian Tedeschi from Carol Stream.

"This is the best group of guys I have ever played with" said Colton, 43, who has been playing in bands since he was 18.

Colton got his first taste of stardom at age 20, when the band he was in, Centerfold, opened for Jeff Beck in Chicago.
In 1994, he released a CD called "Welcome The Rain," which has more of a pop-rock feel than Kampfire Kowboys. He described Kampfire Kowboys as having a sort of sing-along sound. "It is based on one vocal and one acoustic guitar. Because of that, we also can perform unplugged. Kampfire Kowboys has its folk and bluegrass roots to it, and the band puts more of a rock'n roll foundation to that."

Kampfire Kowboys are known for their energetic shows. "Each band member puts their personality into the performance," he said. When he is not moonlighting as a cowboy, Colton manages a law office in Batavia. All of the band members have full-time jobs.

Colton and Piper recorded "somewhere blue" with the help of engineer Jeff Murphy, who has worked with such bands as The Shoes, Material Issue and Local H. Colton released the 15-track CD on his own label, Deagan Records, a record and publishing company. "It fuels the whole project of Kampfire Kowboys," he said.

The CD is being sold at such stores as Kiss The Sky Records in Batavia, Borders Books in Geneva and Tower Record stores in Bloomingdale and Schaumburg. Right now, the band is working to develop a fan base. It just launched a web site, www.kampfirekowboys.com

"Our goal is to find our audience, to find those people who will like our music. I really think there is an audience just waiting for us," Colton said. And he thinks Kane County is the perfect place to win over fans. "This county is the perfect base for this kind of music. It is still rather rural and a little bit farther from the city. We like the idea of being from Kane County," he said.

So round up some of your friends and go see the Kampfire Kowboys from Kane County.
You'd be krazy not to.

KANE COUNTY CHRONICLE Friday, March 17th, 2000
Page 6 Sidetracks; Review
By Eric Schelkopf

You don’t have to go into Chicago to hear some great music.

Some of the area’s best music is right in our backyard, as St. Charles bands Saldo Kreek and Kampfire Kowboys proved Saturday in playing electrifying sets at club 602 North in Glendale Heights.

Both bands play original material, a refreshing alternative to the sea of cover bands that are clogging the Chicago music scene. The show was a CD release party for Kampfire Kowboys’ new album, “Stand Still.”

Saldo Kreek started off the evening in fine fashion with their appealing acoustic pop and folk-rock. This was Saldo Kreek’s first show with its new lineup, with violinist Carrie Davids and drummer Lou Celenza recently joining the group.

Both are already making strong contributions to the group, with Davids’ lush violin-playing bringing a warm dimension to their songs.

Everything clicked for the band on the song “You Can’t Come In,” one of several new songs Saldo Kreek premiered during their set.

As Davids’ violin weaved through the song, Tom Wade growled out the vocals with bluesy, Joe Cocker-like delivery.

But the music was only getting started as the group finished its set and Kampfire Kowboys stepped on stage.

Playing songs from its new CD, Kampfire Kowboys kicked up more than a little dust with its driving country-rock sound.

The new songs feature more of the band’s twangy rock along with the out-on-the-dusty trail vocals of lead singer and songwriter Tom Colton.

Unfortunately, Brian Tedeschi’s furious guitar licks got drowned out in the mix for much of the evening. Even so, the band produced a sound that could easily fill a bigger venue.

Showing off their rockabilly roots, Kampfire Kowboys capped off the evening with a storming version of the Stray Cats’ “Rock This Town.”

If the show sparked your interest in Kampfire Kowboys, the band will hold another CD release party at the Elbo Room, 2871 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, on Thursday, April 6.
Daily Herald Time Out Section 6
July 3rd 1998

GIVE IT A WHIRL, "Our top pick's of things to do."
Mark Guarino - Daily Herald

Western Wear- "Kampfire Kowboy's might sound like a Saturday morning cartoon, but in reality it's a new country rock outfit out of the Northwest and Western suburbs. The band will debut its music at 9pm Thursday at Chord On Blues, 106 S. 1st Ave., St. Charles. The groups self released CD is "somewhere blue". Call 630-513-0074."

THE BEACON NEWS, Tuesday, April 11th, 2000
Local Buzz, By Gary Schaefer
Artist: Kampfire Kowboys.

The Skinny: Kampfire Kowboys has just released its second album titled, Stand Still. These men have their own rocking western style, setting them apart from any band here in the suburbs. Stand Still at one glance, unique, Yet never strays too far from the group’s rock roll blueprints.

Background: Tom Colton is the lead vocalist, guitar player and song writer of Kampfire Kowboys. With 30 years of performing and recording experience, he echoes familiar guitar licks from the likes of Mark Knopler (Dire Straits) and smooth vocal sound reminiscent of Roy Orbison.
Dave Piper is the bass player and also chimes in on vocals. Piper is originally from Florida, but moved to Chicago in the late 1980’s. In the fall of 1997, Piper met up with his old friend Tom and decided to contribute the bass lines for their first CD.
In April 1998, the group welcomed the addition of a second lead guitarist, Brian Tedeschi. He contributes 30 years of playing experience heavily influenced by Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana and it shows on the new CD.

The local boy, Tadd King from Yorkville, joined in late 1999. He performed with other bands such as Plain Dealin’ and the Core.

Past Performances: The Kampfire Kowboys has covered a lot of ground, having already played on more than a dozen venues in Chicago and the suburbs. The group just had its CD Release party at Club 602 North in Glendale Heights and has played local venues like McNally’s in St. Charles. Their first CD release party was held at Chord on Blues celebrating their debut CD, somewhere blue, which was released in the Summer of 1998.

On the CD: Stand Still was recorded and mastered at Star Trax Studio in Crestwood, IL and engineered by Jeff Luif. A follow up to the group’s first album, somewhere blue, this hoe-down has 13 tracks with continuity written all over them.

So What’s the Rumpus: The Kampfire Kowboys play catchy tunes that leave the listener feeling good. The topics in the album are easy to relate to, yet the band brings their own twist to make it something original and emotional. Colton said Kampfire Kowboys caters to people who enjoy a rock & roll with a Texas swing to it. “This is roots rock and that is what America is all about,” said Colton.

Need to Know: To pick up the CD, the band sells them at all shows or go to Kiss the Sky Records, Batavia, or Bark at the Moon Records in Geneva. For more details, call (630)443-1440 or at the web site www.kampfirekowboys.com.

Taken from KANE COUNTY CHRONICLE Friday, July 17, 1998 Entertainment PLUS
By Eric Schelkopf

ST CHARLES- They may call themselves Kampfire Kowboys, but these guys can rock That was evident Thursday night, when they brought their unique country/rock/folk sound to Chord on Blues for a concert celebrating the release of thier new CD, "somewhere blue." With thundering drums and searing guitar licks, the four-piece group played with the intensity of a larger band and should have no trouble handling a bigger venue like Synergy II in West Chicago, where they will perform July 24. Kampfire Kowboys is fronted by St. Charles resident Tom Colton, whose country-ish, out-on-the-dusty-trail voice is perfectly suited for the band. He also handles guitar duties.

Rounding out Kampfire Kowboys are co-founder Dave Piper, also of St. Charles, on bass and vocals; Brian Tedeschi, on lead guitar and vocals and Gary LaPLante, on drums. The show opened with a campfire-like setting, with only a lone harmonica and guitar playing. Then the band ripped into "You Waited Too Long To Reply," from its new CD. But Kampfire Kowboys showed they can tackle other people's music as well, when the group did a countrified version of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Who'll Stop The Rain" while keeping the rock edge of the song intact. Several of Kampfire Kowboy's songs deal with relationships, such as on the title track of "somewhere blue."

As the song's chorus says, "It's good love, good love will find me, somewhere blue." In another song, "Break the Silence," Colton sings, "I still want to be loved again, loved by you." So it seems it's not true that a cowboy's best friend is his horse. You can't lump Kampfire Kowboys' music into a certain category. Just when you think you know what to call this band, it throws something else into the mix. Such was the case with it's rockabilly-influenced "My Pretty Little Baby and Me," which really got the crowd at Chord on Blues jumping. The band treated the audience to an extended version of it's instrumental "Waygone Daddy," the three guitars provided plenty of raw energy. Later on in the show, Colton and Tedeschi got into a guitar duel on "Tin Can Man," trading licks as they tried to out-gun each other. In my opinion, it was a tie. Kampfire Kowboys will make an appearance and perform "unplugged" on the Kevin Matthews show on AM1000 July 23rd.

Article taken from ARLINGTON HEIGHTS POST Thursday,
February 4, 1999; Diversions column Page B6
INTO HIGH GEAR By Martin A. Bartels

It took long enough, but after a lifetime of playing back-up in cover bands in nightclubs around Chicago, Tom Colton finally decided to do his own thing.

"I started writing my own music at a late time in my life," Colton said. "I had played in cover bands most of my life, covering people like Roger Daltry and The Who, Phil

Collins, and Genesis, even Yes, when I was back pushing my voice. I just got tired of doing that and sat down with an acoustic guitar and started writing."
As quickly as that, Kampfire Kowboys was born. Well...not quite.

"A lot of the first music was really sophmoric," Colton admitted. "But then you realize you want to try to do something different."
So he took a handful of songs he was happy with and went to Short Order Recorder in Zion to lay down some tracks, where engineer Jeff Murphy lent a hand getting the music just right.

The next step was to share his new creations with others.

"We really didn't start as a band at all," Colton said. "I played the music for a friend, Dave Piper, who plays bass. He like it and agreed to play bass in the next studio session."

The long and short of it is that Piper, along with Brian Tedeschi (lead guitar) and Arlington Heights resident Keith Daproza (drums) ended up joining the cause.
The result is an energetic, upbeat blend of counrty-and-folk-influenced rock 'n' roll that makes Kampfire Kowboys the best new band in the area. Period.

Not bad for a group of guys who have been together for less than a year.

"It's been goin' pretty well," Colton admitted humbly. "Audiences have been really good and have really liked the music a lot. Though we're still pretty much a band in search of an audience, like any other band."

What's unlike any other band is the style of music that comes out of the four piece group. "We call it rock 'n' roll with a Western flair," Colton said. "I have a little of a folk influence, but it's rock 'n' roll, not folk/rock."

Even country/rock doesn't quite describe the hard-core approach to some heart-felt subjects. Their first CD, "somewhere blue'" features low-key tunes like "Arizona Emily" and "Broken Feather," with lyrics and melodies that will remain firmly planted in your memory. Then again, the rousing instrumental "Waygone Daddy" is the kind of song that will keep you on your feet all night.

The band is already talking about their next CD, and Colton is beginning to see a future for the group. "I think we're just trying to sell some CDs and have a good time," he said. "Now there's a future here. I don't see this as a flash in the pan - I can't.

"The next CD is going to be a lot of fun. We'll have all these guys together, putting their hearts into it. I'm just going to let these guys go and say 'Play.' "
That attitude also characterizes the band's live presence - they've played at such venues as the Abbey Pub in CHicago and Harry's in Arlington Heights. And adiences like them.

"We were playing at a club and one guy came up to me and handed me a napkin," Colton said, "I thought, 'Oh no, he's going to rip us.' But his note said'You guys are Klassy,' with a 'K.'

"I remember those things."

CHICAGO TRIBUNE, Metro Dupage Section, Page 6
Thursday, March 9th, 2000.

Batavia-based country roots-rock band the Kampfire Kowboys celebrate the release of their second CD, "Stand Still," with a party and show Saturday at 602 North, located at 602 North Ave. in Glendale Heights.

Doors open at 9 p.m. and the music begins at 10 p.m.; cover charge is $5.

Formed in 1997 by lead vocalist/songwriter/guitarist Tom Colton, the band also features Dave Piper on bass and vocals, Brian Tedeschi on lead guitar and vocals, Tadd King on guitar and vocals and Keith Daproza on drums. The first Kampfire Kowboys CD, "Somewhere Blue," was released in 1998.

Band members all are longtime veterans of the Chicago-area rock, country-rock and blues scenes, and their soulfully energetic sound reflects a variety of past influences while taking the music in more westerly directions.

Colton, whose musical influences include Pete Townshend and Woody Guthrie, played lead guitar with rock group Centerfold and recalls an early 1980s date when the band opened for Jeff Beck as a career highlight. He also sang with progressive rock group Rooster in the 1980s. Piper played with Release; King performed with Plain Dealin, the Core and other groups based in the Fox Valley, and Daproza has played with a number of Chicago groups, including Igneous Biscuit. Tedeschi also has worked with a number of local bands over the last 17 years.

In addition to the Glendale Heights CD release party, the Kampfire Kowboys also will perform April 6 at the Elbo Room, 2871 Lincoln Ave. in Chicago.


Sound and style:
This four-piece is doing its darndest to keep the Americana faith with this new full length CD. Led by singer, guitarist and producer Tom Colton and his earnest, Elvis-without-the-drugs meets Roy Orbison voice, the Kowboys deliver a polished folk, country and rock mix. In the tradition of classic country, the story's the thing in each song.

“Albuquerque Rose” remembers a sweet old love, while "Fire in the Hole" tells the tale of working on the railroad. The musicianship sparkles with Brian Tedeschi on lead and rhythm guitars, Dave Piper on bass and Keith Daproza on percussion. They can turn on the blue collar charm, as in "Born in Boston," or lead you to two-step, as in "Runnin' Outta Town." The final track, "Dear Starlight," flows methodically, with a mandolin adding a sense of dream-like departure from the modern world.
Recording quality:
Recorded and mastered at Star Trax Recording in Crestwood, some songs have a muted quality, but otherwise clear and strong.
Bottom line:
By the end of the album, Colton's voice may be a little too predictable, but this doesn't really detract as each song conjures visions of the West, complete with tumbleweeds and tangerines. --Lisa Phillips